Read these 23 Jealousy and Envy Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Infidelity tips and hundreds of other topics.
According to the Dictionary, “jealousy is a feeling of jealous envy, one of the strongest passions and a mental uneasiness from suspicion or fear of rivalry and unfaithfulness.” These descriptions sum up the strong emotions people feel when it comes to relationships. Jealousy can be healthy or toxic so overcoming jealousy is still the goal. Healthy jealousy is somewhat acceptable because we want to be protective even a little possessive of the people we care about. It reminds the partners not to take each other for granted. One partner may feel valued and loved when the other partner is slightly jealous.
Unhealthy, toxic jealousy takes the protective and possessive feeling to the extremes over the top to being inappropriate. Obsession is a good description for this type of envy and partners can develop bad behavior and angry outbursts. Jealousy also known as the “Green Eyed Monster” for a reason will tear a relationship apart if left unchecked. The best way to overcome jealousy is to monitor your own feelings. If you feel anger instead of love, it's time to communicate with your partner and put the relationship back into perspective.
Feeling vulnerable and anxious can bring out a full-fledged panic attack. When it comes to relationships, vulnerability and fear can be a direct result of bad communication. The internal alarm bell sounds when relationships start to go south and couples stop talking. People experience anxiety when they worry about what may happen. Generally, the worst doesn't happen and the worry was for nothing. Follow these guidelines for reducing the fears and releasing anxiety.
- Breathe through the feelings of anxiety and fear of the unknown. Instead of making impulsive statements out of fear, slow down and calm the anxious suspicions. Do not picture the worse case scenario.
- Monitor your physical reactions such as nausea, shortness of breath, chills, dizziness, accelerated heart rate or trembling. These are extreme anxiety problems and can cause more dangerous health issues.
- Look within and ask why you are feeling scared and not safe now. Listen for the answer because you will probably hear one.
- Ask the question: what is this anxious fear supposed to teach me? What good can come from experiencing these feeling of anxiety?
If you have reason to believe that your partner is overly invested in a "friend" -- whether it's a full-blown physical relationship, an "emotional affair" or an unacknowledged attraction -- it's time to have a conversation.
Even though this is difficult material, try to choose a time when you're calm and rational. Point out what you've observed. Maybe he dresses up for his friend but not for you. Maybe you found a steamy e-mail she sent. Whatever your "evidence," state it calmly and rationally, and ask your partner to tell the truth.
Don't start with "How could you lie to me?" or "What has she got that I haven't got?" or that old favorite "After all I've done for you..." Ask your partner to be honest in talking with you about YOUR relationship problems, and describe your feelings -- "I'm angry," "I'm frustrated" -- rather than acting them out. Be aware that feelings of jealousy can be expressions of your own anxieties rather than reflecting anything that's really going on.
If you're having trouble expressing yourself and being heard, a competent couples therapist may be able to help you and your partner through your relationship problems.
Liars may be fun for a short while -- after all, they have to be charming to get away with their games -- but people who lie to another partner may easily do it to you.
How to spot liars: There are many ways to tell if someone is lying. One is simply to listen and see if the person's stories add up. Some people spend time snooping, which can be effective in spotting warning signs of cheating, but carries its own moral problems.
In any case, the thing to do is to back away. If you discover the person you've married, with whom you are raising children, is a liar or a cheat, there may be reasons to try to work it out. If you're just dating this person, now is a perfect time to find out he's a cheating man or she's a lying woman. Just drop the relationship and move on.
Self deception is one way partners justify behavior that they know is wrong. In the example of infidelity, one partner deceives the other by being unfaithful. They go on to become self deceptive by rationalizing their behavior to themselves. Self deception can lead to anger and severe problems in the relationship such as abuse and violence.
All self deception may not include such dangerous problems. People deceive themselves when they use statements such as, “I can't stop seeing John vs. I won't stop seeing John”. Do you see the difference? Be honest with yourself because ‘won't' is the most honest of the two statements. Logically you are able to and ‘can' stop seeing someone, you just choose not to. Self deception crops up in many areas of life. People think they can't stop eating, smoking, don't have time to exercise, you name it. Pay attention to what you say and how you say it. Stop the deception, and you are on your way to an honest relationship with yourself and others.
Anxious feelings and fear of the unknown can cause symptoms in the body that are not healthy. Students feel anxiety before tests, partners feel stress if they fear infidelity, children can cause problems within the family and many anxious nights for parents. It doesn't matter what form anxiety takes, anxious fear can become debilitating and dangerous to your health. Here are some ideas to reduce stress and release anxious feelings.
- Admit anxious feelings and what you believe is causing them. Don't run from the feelings, sit down, breathe and slow yourself down. Take a hot bath or meditate. Use calming aromatherapy oils such as lavender, jasmine or rose to ease anxiety.
- Don't be afraid to say no, allow time for you.
- Open up the lines of communication and start talking honestly with your partner. People feel anxious when they feel the situation is out of their control. If a partner feels like the relationship is slipping through their fingers and they cannot fix it, they panic and feel alone.
- Life changes create fear and anxious feelings. Infidelities, financial problems, childbirth, death, change of jobs and loss of job are just a few reasons that panic attacks show up. Again, breathe through them and meditate or even pray.
According the Dictionary, the definition of suspicion is the slight trace, hint or suggestion, doubt or mistrust of something or someone. Suspicions are aroused in relationships when one of the partners believes the other partner is being unfaithful to them. The actual people are not suspicious, their behavior is. There are distinct signs of suspicious behavior in a relationship.
Jealousy and envy will destroy a relationship. Bad behavior, infidelity and lies can lead to one partner feeling betrayed and the other partner feeling empty and guilty. There are things you can do to stop infidelity and prevent jealous feelings from happening in the beginning.
- Establish guidelines at the beginning of the relationship. Both partners should know the types of behavior that is acceptable and unacceptable.
- Are you jealous or envious because someone cheated on you in the past? If so, don't bring past baggage into the present relationship. If there are no grounds for jealousy, visit a counselor.
- Stay in the present and with reality. Don't focus on your suspicions, get to the root of the problem and the facts.
- Communicate your feelings openly and honestly with your partner. Get everything out on the table.
- Ask an objective friend if you are behaving irrationally. Sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees and the situation is not as it seems. Our good friends will be honest with us.
Jealousy can come from a lack of self-esteem. Do you believe your partner is attracted to other people because he or she could not possibly be attracted to you anymore? When you feel better about yourself, problems with jealousy could resolve itself.
Many people go into marriage expecting to live happily ever after. Alas, real life doesn't work that way, and real spouses have to cope with the demands of children, career problems, caring for aging relatives, illness, financial troubles, and a host of other possible stresses. When "for better or for worse" hits the "worse" part, it's all to easy to turn away from one another, or to let the marriage slide down on the priority list.
Jealousy is an uncomfortable feeling, and has its roots in insecurity. Whether or not there is cause for jealousy, its presence is an expression of the jealous person's own stress and anxiety -- over things that may have nothing at all to do with the relationship!
For many people, jealousy has its roots in a fear of abandonment or vulnerability. This is particularly true when there is an imbalance of power -- whether it be economic, social, sexual, emotional -- in a relationship. The person who has less power may use suspicion and jealousy in an unconscious attempt to gain equality.
Anxiety and jealousy sometimes manifest themselves in the form of questions that may seem like a partner is being put through some sort of prisoner of war interrogation.
Before you start getting out the hot needles and bright lights for the next interrogration session, think about the effect questions are having on your partner. Do you come away from such a conversation feeling better about your relationship? About yourself?
Asking questions is a perfectly normal part of interacting with a partner, but when they become accusations, or when you use questions to try to catch your partner doing something "wrong," it's natural for the other person to get defensive. In all too many cases, a partner who's not doing anything wrong may feel stressed and resentful enough to start cheating or leave the relationship -- thus making the questioner's worst fears come true.
Instead, first look at yourself. When you ask a question, do you really want to know the answer? Do you listen carefully, paying attention to your partner's feelings and unspoken messages as well as the words?
Are your friends in healthy relationships? Do you envy your friends when you are around them because they have somebody in your life and you don't? Are you envious of your friends because their partner is better looking, smarter, wealthier than yours is? These are tough questions to ask yourself, but if you believe envy and jealousy is creeping into your relationship, try these ideas to improve your feelings about yourself and your partner.
- Be honest with yourself regarding your look and style. Maybe it is time to lose weight, re-style your hair or get your teeth whitened. If you have better self-esteem, you won't be as envious of others. If a physical makeover doesn't seem to be the answer, look within to determine what is lacking. Why do you feel less deserving of a partnership than others do? You deserve a healthy relationship just as much as your friends.
- Look for the best in your partner. It's too easy to focus on the faults. Is your partner kind and respectful? Does he or she support your goals and aspirations? Does your partner look at all of your good points and ignore your faults?
Envy and jealousy can't exist if we don't want what our friends and neighbors seem to have. Keep the focus on yourself, love yourself, go out, and love others so you can experience others loving you.
Why do people feel the need to deceive their partner in a relationship? Deception is too easy. Lying and cheating is common in marriage and happens with little regard or thoughts of the other partner. The age-old question women have is why do men cheat? Make no mistake; men are cheating with women so women cheat too. Some of the basic reasons men cheat are boredom, they do not respect their partner, the relationship has no communication and because they just do. What can you do to stop your spouse before the deception begins?
- Change things up in the bedroom. If you are doing the same things repeatedly, some of the mystery is bound to leave. Mix it up and get creative.
- Talk things over. Pay attention to details and realize you aren't the same. If you aren't on the same level of commitment, that's ok. Nothing good comes from a lopsided relationship.
- Looks aren't everything, but keep this in mind. Stay healthy and fit and care enough about yourself to care for your spouse.
We teach people how to treat us so be faithful and do not lie to your spouse. Be honest about your relationship so confrontation and deception are never part of your life.
Some people believe jealousy is a sign of love. Real love involves trust and communication, not accusations and snooping.
When jealous behavior becomes a problem, it's most often a manifestation of the jealous person's own insecurities and self-esteem issues. If you're feeling anxious about a relationship, overcoming jealousy will require you to face those issues.
Signs you may have a problem with jealousy include:
-- Feeling compelled to track your partner's every minute of time
-- Becoming overly upset when your partner is unavailable
-- Calling your partner multiple times to check up
-- Feeling tempted to flirt with others just to "show" a supposedly cheating partner
-- Interpreting a partner's fatigue, illness, or distraction as a sign that you are not loved
-- Compulsions to snoop into a partner's e-mail, cell phone records or other private communications
Do you feel jealous and envious of your friend's relationships or marriage? Is something lacking in your current partnership? Have you ever stopped to think what you are feeling is boredom? Partners become bored over just about anything. One partner may become bored with doing all of the cooking and cleaning. Another partner may be bored with his or her career and it spills over into the relationship. Partners could be bored with his or her quality of their sex life. When boredom sets in, the grass looks greener in your friend's relationship.
Be honest with yourself about what is going on. Determine that jealousy and envy will not damage your existing partnership. Find out exactly what is upsetting you about your partner. Sit down and write a journal about what you are feeling and what bothers you. Once you know why you are bored, you will have lots of ammunition to shake things up. Find a new job, spice up your sex life, do something unpredictable. It's a lot better to deal with jealous feelings about your partnership before you do things to permanently damage your relationship.
In a healthy relationship, suspicion, jealousy, and deception aren't needed because partners trust one another and behave in trustworthy ways. Both partners understand their shared ground rules and willingly stay within them because they believe their relationship is worth preserving.
A healthy relationship does involve curiosity and questioning. Partners who love one another take joy in discovering new things about one another, even if they've been together for decades. Learning new things about one another -- being a "relationship detective" -- is part of an ongoing process of accepting and appreciating another person.
Jeff knew he wasn't breaking the rules of their marriage, but that didn't stop his wife Ginny from greeting him with a storm of questions and accusations. "You weren't at your desk when I called! Where were you? What meeting? Who was there?"
When he stopped focusing on his own actions and started focusing on Ginny, that's when things started getting better. Working with a therapist, they came to realize that Ginny felt jealous and insecure because of her envy of Jeff's career. They agreed to cut back on other expenses so that Ginny could go back to college and begin pursuing goals of her own that she had put aside in the early years of their marriage.
Sometimes, jealousy is an expression of our own fears and insecurities. Sometimes, though, there's really something going on.
There are classic signs of a cheating partner: sudden interest in appearance, new energy that doesn't seem to be related to other aspects of the person's life, unexplained phone calls or absences. Whether or not any of these are present, if you have a reasonable suspicion that your partner may be cheating on you, it's important not to act without knowing the truth.
Choose a time when you're not anxious, and talk with your partner about what you've seen and what you've been feeling. Ask your partner to talk about your relationship and where it's going. A cheating partner may be defensive at first, trying to tell you you're imagining things. Try not to get sidetracked into deceptions and minor disputes about specific incidents -- instead, keep the focus on the relationship and how the two of you can make things better.
Having suspicions in a relationship is your inner voice telling you something is wrong. Suspicious behavior by your spouse or partner is not fact and you should proceed with caution before accusing them of actual infidelity. You would be wise to investigate further by yourself or involve a professional detective agency.
Some of the signs that raise suspicions of your husband being unfaithful include:
- Change of behavior such as showering you with gifts or flowers for no specific reason. This is not something he would normally do.
- There is a paper trail of deposit slips to someone else's bank account.
- He has decided to start exercising; he eats his food differently or has many new clothes. He is doing a makeover on himself.
- He may inadvertently mention new places he has been or things he has done and you obviously were not with him.
- Infidelity takes time away from you and the kids. He may be gone a lot more than usual.
- The frequency and quality of your sex life may be suffering.
Watch for these suspicious signs of infidelity. You do not want to be the last to know that your husband is cheating on you. If you choose to involve a professional and investigate to get the facts, be prepared mentally and emotionally for the truth.
It's impossible to lock your partner away from the world. Humans are social beings and both you and your partner will deal with many other adults in the course of your normal lives. One important step in preventing problems of jealous and anxious feelings is to set ground rules ahead of time.
Some questions you might want to ask one another:
-- What physical actions do the two of you believe are "cheating"? Is a kiss cheating? What about a hug, or hand-holding?
-- How much time is reasonable for the two of you to spend with friends away from your partner?
-- When is it OK to be alone with a friend of the opposite sex?
-- How will you keep in touch when one of you must travel on business?
-- What sorts of Internet activities are OK for your partner? Chat rooms? Dating sites?
Everyone's rules will be different, and there's no one "right" way to run a healthy relationship. For example, Jen and Andy decide that sex outside their relationship is OK, provided they still sleep with one another. Most couples wouldn't agree to that, but it's what they agreed to as equals. If one of them becomes dissatisfied further on, they can renegotiate the rules in consensus.
As in all things, moderation in self-deception can be beneficial -- even charming. You've probably known someone who was head over heels in love with an ordinary-looking partner, and truly believed this person was beautiful or handsome. That kind of self deception keeps the course of love running smoothly.
When you and your partner are going through a stressful time, or when you are anxious and insecure, it is easy to wind up going to extremes with self-deception, refusing to see what's really going on in your relationship.
Two common ways this plays out: Some people close their eyes even to blatant evidence of problems in their relationships ("the wife/husband is always the last to know"), while others become hypervigilant, suspicious even when there's no shred of cause for doubt.
Deception plays no role in a healthy relationship. At the same time, there's no requirement that you share everything, or that you give up all private life of your own.
If you have a sexual relationship, your partner is entitled to know if you're using birth control, or if you have a sexually transmitted disease. Your partner is not necessarily entitled to know how many people you've slept with in the past. It's OK to draw a boundary and say "I'm not comfortable talking about that. Those things are over, and I'm here with you now, and I'd much rather talk about us."
At the same time, if you're contemplating marriage or children with someone, it's a red flag if you don't know anything about his or her past or family. (Such a person may be concealing an unresolved marriage, a prison record, or even his or her identity.)
As relationships develop, partners may come to agreements around privacy, perhaps agreeing not to read one another's e-mail or to trust each other with personal information that wasn't appropriate to share early on. The important thing is to make these decisions together.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|